I once had a patient who had a stroke at 99-years-old. After she was discharged home, her daughter noticed that she’d stopped talking—and that her memory seemed off.
Two months post-stroke, I was called in for an evaluation. After assessing the patient, I recommended a Memory Book.
Her daughter dug out old photos albums. We organized pictures into a personalized book, adding captions to spark even more memories. When presented with the book, her mother lit up and began regaling us with stories of her youth.
The daughter thanked me through tears of joy. All it took was a simple Memory Book to ignite her mother’s memories and help them to reconnect.
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Who Should You Make a Memory Book For?
A Memory Book, also known as a “Reminiscence” or “Orientation” Book is a meaningful and often fun memory tool for our patients with memory difficulties or dementia.
By adding images and simple text about their current and past lives, the books can help them orient to where they are and what’s happening around them. It can also unearth emotions that trigger memories.
Help your patients:
1. Orient to Self, Location, and Purpose
2. Orient to Family and Friends
3. Orient to Medical History and Status
4. Orient to Daily Schedule, etc
5. Decrease Anxiety and Increase Independence
6. Reduce Repetitive Questions
How to Use a Memory Book
Teach caregivers and loved ones how to use the memory book. Most use a memory book as a way to communicate and share in an activity with their loved ones.
1. Memory books are meant to be a fun sharing experience. They can improve mood and quality of life.
2. Slowly flip through the book. Encourage conversation by pointing to photos and asking open-ended questions. “Who is this?” “Where was this photo taken?”
3. Give reminders to read captions. This helps your loved one remember information.
4. Avoid “quizzing” your loved one. Instead, give opportunities to share parts of their life story.
5. Memory books can also be used to answer any repetitive questions your loved one may ask. For example, if they frequently ask, “When are we going home?” prompt them to open the memory book and find the answer under Location Information.
How to Format a Memory Book
1. Include photos whenever possible. Add short captions as needed.
2. Place photos and text on plain white printer paper (8.5″ x 11″).
3. Include headings and page numbers on each page.
4. Write or type using large text (24 points of larger).
5. Limit text to 3-4 short sentences on each page. Use bullet points.
6. Laminate or place paper in plastic protective sheets.
7. Keep the book in a 3-ring binder or photo album.
Memory Book Table of Contents
Remember to include plenty of pictures throughout the memory book.
1. Cover Page
Name and photo of the patient
2. Table of Contents
Title and page number of each page of the Memory Book.
3. Personal Memories
- Full name, birth date, birthplace, birth place
- Fond childhood memories
- Hobbies and talents
- Memorable happy events (e.g. vacations, buying a new car, winning an award, etc.)
2. Family Memories
- Spouse’s names, specific memories, hobbies, and traits, etc.
- Children’s names, specific memories, hobbies, and traits, etc.
- Parent’s names, specific memories, hobbies, and traits, etc.
- Pets’ names
3. Friends Memories
Friends’ names, specific memories, hobbies, traits, etc.
4. Other Memories
Add other memories that will spark a conversation, soothe your loved one, orient them to their life now—or are just plain fun!
5. Location Information
- Current home (e.g., “the yellow house”, “retirement home,” “Bobby’s house”)
- Previous homes
Wake up time, meal times, reading hour, etc.
7. Emergency Medical Information
- Name, birthdate, age
- Primary Care Physician & phone number
- Emergency Contacts & phone numbers
- Medical Conditions
- Surgical History
- Date list was updated
- Medications & Dosages
Memory Book Example Pages
Memory Book Template (PDF)
Enjoy! Pro tip: use pages 3-8 (pre-formatted memory book pages) for personal memories, family memories, friends memories, other memories, and location information.
Your downloadable Memory Book Template is 11 pages and includes:
1. A Cover Page
2. Table of Contents
3. Pre-formatted Memory Book pages
4. Patient Schedule Page
5. Emergency Medical Information Page
6. Medication Page